“…’til death do we part.” This classic line included in many wedding vows isn’t quite the whole story. Marriages end for a variety of reasons. However, marriages in Florida can only end in one of three ways: death, divorce or annulment.
How is annulment different from divorce?
Divorce, or “dissolution of marriage,” is the process of terminating or ending a legal marriage. This is the most common and simplest way to end a marriage. Annulments, on the other hand, are the “nullifying,” or “voiding” of a marriage that wasn’t legal. Annulments are a legal option when the marriage never legally existed in the eyes of the law, due to fraud or other voidable circumstances.
“Void marriage” versus “voidable marriage”
To be eligible for an annulment, the marriage has to be void or voidable. A void marriage is one that never legally existed as it was unlawful. However, a voidable marriage is one that became illegal when previously unknown information was discovered. Under Florida law, any marriage that can be voided can be annulled, and there are no time limitations to do so.
What are the legal grounds for an annulment in Florida?
To get a marriage annulled in Florida, one or more of the following requirements must be met:
- Bigamy: Currently married to another spouse at the time of the “marriage”
- Underage: Being underage and without parental consent
- Force: Lack of consent due to being forced into marriage by threats or coercion
- Inability to give consent: Due to mental illness, health issues that impaired thinking, or being under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Fraud: Withholding any information that would have prevented the marriage from taking place, such as impotence, could also be considered fraud and grounds for annulment.
Annulments are far less common than divorce and not as easy to get. If one or more of the qualifying factors above applies to your marriage, legal counsel that is experienced in divorce and annulments is a must.